Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/jgatchfa/public_html/forum/Sources/Load.php(225) : runtime-created function on line 3

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/jgatchfa/public_html/forum/Sources/Load.php(225) : runtime-created function on line 3
Acts of Sacrifice by WyldKat
Acts of Sacrifice by WyldKat
[Reviews - 1] - Table of Contents - [Report This]

Printer Chapter or Story
- Text Size +
Story Notes:
foreign language used in some places, short dictionary provided at end of the story.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Part one of a two part series

First the legal type stuff.

Gatchaman is the property of Tatsunoko and Battle of the Planets is the property of and Sandy Frank Productions. No profit, gain, hire or reward is received for this work.

 

Conversations enclosed by carrots < .. > are in Regalian.

Conversations enclosed by brackets { .. } are done in sign language.

Conversations enclosed by colons :: .. :: are telepathic.

 

Contains depictions of violence and some foul language used.

 

=======================================

 

“Acts of Sacrifice”

Kat Ross

 

 

 

One of the most vital assets of the Galactic Federation was its renowned Security Department. The foundation of which was the 18 Security Operatives: two full teams, and a handful of auxiliary members backing them. People trained to perform near surgical strikes against those who sought to endanger the safety of the Federation, or threatened the lives of the citizens of the member worlds. Young adults who used specialized skills, to retrieve information, people and stolen classified items, even to remove people and entire bases when necessary. They operated out of a hidden base in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Contact with the base was made possible via a complex satellite/beacon system. Entrance was gained through id codes, codes that changed as frequently as the seasons. Movement around the base was possible only if a person knew precisely where they were going since the complex had miles of corridor, some of which seemed to lead nowhere, and no correct maps. Getting turned around and lost was common for new recruits.

In charge of this organized chaos was Galactic Federation Security Chief Neal Anderson, a former member of the NSA and ISO, and one of the minds responsible for the formation of the department.

 

 

Security Chief Anderson took his glasses off, rubbed his eyes, and leaned back in his chair. He eyed the small stack of papers on his desk wearily. Most of the stack was paperwork that could wait until the morning, if necessary. Slipping his glasses back on he turned to look at the clocks behind his desk. The one on the right showed 2300hrs. GMT, the second one showed 17:00hrs. CT. He considered briefly letting the papers wait until morning, and going to get something to eat. That thought only lasted a second. The work would take about another hour, at most, and the mess area stayed open around the clock, so getting something to eat was not a problem. Besides, work finished tonight, was work he would not have to worry about later. Still facing the back wall, he reached out and keyed the intercom.

“Duffy’s Roadside Café,” a musical tenor voice cheerfully answered. “You kill it, we grill it. Duffy’s na in right now, this is Ian, kin I take a message.”

The Chief chuckled and turned towards the intercom. “Ian, what are you doing still down there?”

“Probably tha same thin’ ya are, Chief – workin’. What kin I do fer ya?”

“Wanted to see if I could get something sent up.”

“Sure thin’. What’cha got in mind?”

“Preferably something simple,” a small grin crossed his face “and quiet.”

“Ye'll na be wantin tha Texas Surprise then. Are ya wantin dinner, or jus a snack?”

“A light dinner,” he said after a moment's thought.

“All righ’ then. Gi’e me a few minutes. I’ll ha’e ya somethin’ shortly.”

Neal turned off the intercom, shook his head, and returned to his work. Ian had a sizable screw loose, but the man was an excellent gourmet chef. One who did not become insulted when someone ordered a simple ham and cheese on rye. He knew that it was safe to give Ian a general idea of what you wanted. Some how the chef always knew what would best fill the bill.

A couple of minutes later, the monitor screen to his right informed him that the docking bay had been activated. A few quick keystrokes brought up the identity of the incoming craft, and a raised eyebrow.

“She’s early.”

So was his dinner.

“Chief Anderson, it’s Bobby from the kitchen,” door comm. announced.

“Come in, Bobby.”

“Ian sent this.” A youngster walked in carrying a tray. “Said I was to stay long enough to be sure it was okay.”

Neal shifted a couple of papers around and made room on his desk for the tray. Once the boy had set tray down, he lifted the lid, half expecting to find a sandwich of some type and some form of side salad. Instead he found a small dinner salad, baked fish, boiled baby potatoes, and French style green beans, with a hot cup of coffee.

“Does he prepare this, and then hold it at temperature till I decide what I’m going to do?” Bobby looked at him like the mouse the cat is about to corner. “Strike that. It’s bad politics to reveal how your boss accomplishes his miracles. Tell Ian this is fine, thank you.”

“Thank you, sir.” Bobby almost bowed then scampered out the door. The poor kid was still intimidated by the Chief.

A few bites into his meal his computer beeped, warning him of an incoming message. He let it wait until he had finished jotting a note, and swallowed.

“Yes, Mycroft.”

“Message from Lt. Commander Kimpel: “I’m in, and I got the data”.

“Thank you, Mycroft. Let her know I am in my office.”

 

 

A sleek fighter jet cut through the early December air, wings raked for hypersonic flight. The setting sun reflected shades of red and orange off the skin as it screamed over the mountains.

Lt. Commander Kristen Kimpel grinned as Chamel rolled in response to subtle pressure on the stick. The plane was quite simply fun to fly and for a brief few moments she could almost forget the rest of world and enjoy the solitude; just her, the sky, the clouds and Chamel.

Eventually the reviver was broken by Chamel’s radio.

“Frank Sam Baker 2, this is Colorado Springs.”

Sighing, she flipped the mike switch on. “Go ahead Colorado.”

“Confirmation check. We show you at Angles 15, moved north by northeast, at one six.”

She did a fast glance over the control panel. “I check you, Colorado.”

“That’s a Roger, Frank Sam Baker 2.”

Spreading the wings out she started dropping speed as she guided the Guardian class jet into the pass. A steady hand kept her clear of the mountain wall as she reached out and keyed the ID beacon. A few seconds later, as she glided across the lake, her console showed a new light. The light blinked red a couple of times then changed to a steady yellow. Through the deepening shadows, she saw the side of the mountain open. The lights of a large landing bay guided her the rest of the way.

As always, she said a silent prayer as she dropped the tail hook. Everything had to be precise; there were no second chances here. One mistake and the jet crashed into the side of the mountain, or took out the back of the bay.

An orange-jacketed member of the flight crew waved her in as she flared Chamel’s nose a fraction. Seconds later she felt the hook catch the dragline and nailed the brakes. She had less than 200 yards to get the plane stopped before she met the wall. Those 200 yards quickly vanished while the dragline played out its length before snapping to a stop. The resistance of the line, combined with the wheel brakes, slowed and then stopped the plane still over 100 yards from the wall.

Kris breathed a sigh of relief and popped her canopy. Her skills she trusted, but the mechanics of the dragline worried her. Off to her left she saw the crewmember pantomime wiping his forehead as one of the other crew disengaged the line from the hook. She grinned, tossed him a salute, then put her hands together as if praying. He laughed, shook his head, and waved her towards her dock. Sweeping the wings back, she nudged the stick to taxi Chamel towards the lift. On the way down to the hangar, she radioed ATC.

“Colorado, this is Frank Sam Baker 2. I’m down and docked.”

“You’re clear, Hawk. Have a good evening.”

“Thanks, RC. Tell Maggie I said Hi.”

Kris killed the mike without waiting to see if RC would reply and took off her helmet. That item ended up hanging from the stick as she started unbuckling her harness and reached into the side pocket of her seat and extracted a small package. Once the lift stopped, she stood up.

The ground crew would move the plane into its usual bay. Once it had been checked over it would be moved back up and placed in the launching bay.

 

Lieutenant Jun Anderson watched from the shadows near the door as Kris scrambled out of the cockpit. She had been next to a computer terminal and had heard the crew call for the secondary dock. A fast query showed the id of the incoming craft. She had decided to come down and see her friend in.

“Hi.” She called across the bay.

Kris started slightly, dropped the rest of the way to the floor, spinning as she fell. Coming up from a half crouch, she looked in the direction of the voice.

“Jun,” she growled straightening up, “I expect that kind of terminal stupidity from one of the guys, not you.” She pointedly tapped the knife that had appeared in her left hand against her thigh a few times.

“Sorry,” Jun laughed. “I didn’t mean to startle you. What do you do, sleep with that thing?”

“No, I don’t need to. That’s what the dog is for.”

“Speaking of which,” Jun nodded towards the door behind her where Kris’ dog, Flash, patiently waited. When she looked back the knife had returned to its hidden sheath.

“Thanks. I really appreciate your taking care of him.” Kris signed to Flash to come. He bounced to his feet and trotted towards her.

“No problem. You’re early.”

Kris grinned as she ruffled Flash’s ears and moved towards the door. “It doesn’t take long to pick up a disk.”

“Perhaps, but you weren’t expected till tomorrow.” Jun subtly eyed her comrade as she walked over. Kris looked tired. It was probably a safe bet that behind those tinted lenses, Kris’ eyes sported dark shadows. Her fight-suit was not quite as meticulous as she normally kept it. Otherwise, she looked okay. At barely 5 foot 4 inches, with a dancer's build, she was physically unimposing; however, the lady was easily as quick and as deadly as a hawk.

A non-committal grunt was the only reply she received. Mycroft,” she spoke into her communicator, “if you haven’t already, tell Dumb-Shit I’m in. And I got the data.”

A few seconds later Mycroft replied, “Message relayed. Responding message: I am in my office.”

Kris grinned at Jun. “Ever wonder if he relays those messages as is, or if he paraphrases them?”

“No, I’m usually more intrigued that he knows who the message is for.” She fell into step beside the younger woman as they headed down the long corridor leading away from the bay.

“Why? I’m usually consistent with my names.” Kris stuck her sunglasses in the top pocket of her flight suit.

“I thought I heard you call him Idiot Child one day.”

“No,” Kris glanced over, grinning widely, “Idiot Child is Jason. “By the way, how’s the sea-monkey?”

“Kris!” She swatted at the younger woman’s shoulder.

“Sorry.” The wide grin Kris wore suggested that she really wasn’t sorry. “They all look like that to me.”

Jun sighed. “I thought you liked children.”

“I do. Once they become human, and self motorvating.”

“She’s fine. We’re both fine. We’re taking her home tomorrow.” Jun shook her head, not fooled in the least by her friend’s act. Kris had hardly waited two days before stopping in to see the baby.

“Looks like I got back just in time then.”

“We named her Crystal.”

“Pretty. Brings to mind gems and clear, white light. So how long are you staying off the field?”

“At least another four weeks, possible as long as six.”

“Hun, the others probably are hoping for the four weeks. From what I’ve heard, you’ve been missed. The reserves are good but it takes time to feel comfortable with an unknown person, ask Ben.”

Jun nudged Kris in the shoulder as she stepped into an elevator. “Go get some sleep woman and take this walking flea circus with you.” She patted Flash on the shoulder as he quietly followed Kris.

 

 

Kris really wasn’t surprised to learn that the Chief was still in his office. There was speculation that he all but lived in there some days. After all, with a mini kitchenette, a couch large enough to accommodate that 6’3” frame, and an executive type washroom, the only thing he would have lacked was a change of clothes. For all anyone knew, he may have a spare suit the washroom. She entered in response to his summons and grinned when she saw the remnants of dinner.

“Ordered from the mess I see.”

“You’re back early.”

“You wouldn’t have sent me to pick this up,” Kris held up a small black plastic case, “if you didn’t want it back yesterday. Speaking of which, is it still Thursday or is it Friday already. And no I didn’t back time,” she said, referring to a feature of the engine used in the small Guardian jets, one that allowed the jet to arrive at any location at any time the pilot chose; literally giving them the ability to move through time. “I set the drive to arrive here five minutes after I left Liscus. I just lost track of time while I was there.”

“It is Thursday evening.” Anderson reached out to take the case.

“Good, I have an English paper due next week and I don’t think the Professor is going to accept “I was out saving the galaxy as an excuse for turning it in late.”

“I hope you have it done, your team is “On-Call”.” He turned slightly, opening the disk case, and slipped the disk into a drive.

“Great,” Kris groaned softly, turning to leave. “I thought the days of half week turn arounds were over.” She motion for Flash to follow and headed out muttering to herself.

Chief Anderson ignored her half-hearted grousing and started looking over the data she had brought back.

 

 

Commander Mathew Allen Kentrel roused to the insistent beeping of his watch. He groaned, rolled over, and threw the covers over his head. He and Mark had flown a new proto-type jet to the Pax River station on the eastern cost of North America for additional testing. After going out for dinner with some of the base’s test pilots they had opted to stay over in the BOQ.

“Matt,” a sleep heavy voice came from the next bed “your communicator.”

“Yeah, I hear it,” Matt muttered into the pillow. He reached towards the nightstand and fumbled for the offending object. Not finding it by touch he rolled his head and tried to see if he could locate it by sight. He finally got hold of his watch/communicator and shut the beeping off. “Crikes! It’s only 4:30. Who the hell is calling at this ungodly hour?”

“Answer it, and you’ll find out.”

Matt groaned again and buried his face in the pillow. A moment later he levered himself up on one elbow and reached for the communicator. In the process, he glanced over towards the next bed. In the moonlight filtering through the window he could just make out his cousin’s form “How’d you know it was mine?”

“Mine’s in my shoe.” Commander Markel Allen Dacanrus - Anderson rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

“That’s a good place for it,” Matt laughed.

“Will you answer that blasted thing,” Mark growled as the object in question started beeping again.

Matt laughed at his cousin. “Are you always this pleasant in the morning?”

“Only when I’m woken up too damned early.”

“Boy, are you in for some fun when you guys take the kid home.”

“If you don’t answer that thing, now, the Chief is going to have to promote Kris.

Matt laughed and strapped on his communicator. “Wolf, go ahead.”

“Wolf,” Chief Anderson’s voice issued form the small speaker, “gather your team and report to the base.”

“Clear.” Matt turned off the communicator and sat up. Glancing over at his apparently sleeping cousin, he grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom. His lean and solid, wolf like, frame, showed several old battlescars. Evidence of a rough existence, even at a young age.

“Mycroft,” he called softly into his communicator once he had the bathroom door closed.

“Go ahead, Mathew.”

“Where are the other members of Force Seven?

“Lt. Commander Kimpel is in her quarters at Alpha Base. Lieutenant Kimpel is in his apartment in Bolder. Lieutenants’ Cyne, Thomas, Tanake and Masters are at their house in Dayton.”

“Okay, thanks.” He paused long enough to tug his shirt over his head then tapped a code into his communicator.

 

Lt. Yale Thomas rolled over and sat up when his watch started beeping.

“Yeah.”

“Fox, time to rock and roll.”

Yale dropped his head into his hands and breathed heavily.

“You awake enough to remember where you left the Falcon?” Matt asked, referring to their team’s command craft.

“Yeah,” Yale straightened up and rubbed his eyes. “She’s in her bay at Wright-Pat.” Even at 19, Yale was considered one of the Security Department’s top pilots.

“Good. I’ll pick up Mustang. We should be there in about an hour and ten minutes. See you at Alpha.” Matt closed the line.

Yale stood up and reached for his pants. The mind and reflexes of a fox coupled with the build of a blonde beach god gave him the agility to strike quickly and quietly; both in combat, and with women. A talent he happily used whenever he had the chance.

“I caught part of it.” Lt. Ellisha Cyne, licensed Paramedic and Navigator for the Falcon, stood in his doorway, tucking her shirt into her pants. Graceful and lithe as a gazelle, but as deadly as a cobra, she reminded many people of a ballerina in looks and movements. “He let on what was up?”

“Nope.” Yale grabbed a shirt and pulled it on. “Wonder what’s so important that we get called out at 4:30 in the morning.”

“Guess we’ll find out soon enough. I'll go get the other two.”

Lt. Benjamin Masters, electronic counter measures officer for the Falcon, rolled and sat up, instantly awake when he heard his door open.

“What?”

"Matt just called. We've been called in to Alpha."

“Okay. What kind of time marker are we looking at?”

"He said he'd be a little over an hour."

Ben turned and looked at the glowing numbers on his clock. “Hmm, ‘bout 05:45 Eastern. Okay, just needed to know how forceful I needed to be with Pet.”

Ellie grinned, relieved. That member of the team was notorious for being hard to wake.

Ben stood up and paddled out of his room. His graceful movements and slightly diminutive statue called to mind a South American jungle cat. A lightning and deadly strike only added to the image. He paused part way down the hall and glanced into his team mate/foster brother’s room. Pet was still sleeping soundly. He continued down the hall and went downstairs to the kitchen. Once he had some coffee brewing, he went back upstairs to Pet’s room.

“Rise and shine, Stretch,” he cried turning on the overhead light.

Lt. Janaritanke, Pet to his friends, engineering support for the Falcon, yelped and dove under his pillow. After a moment, Ben shoved him with a foot.

“Come on, Pet, we have to go to work.” A soft snore was his only response. Ben’s counter was to pull the blankets off the bed and yanked away the pillow.

“Good grief, Ben, it’s not even 5.” Pet growled and snatched the pillow and put it back over his head.

“I know. Matt just called.”

“Great,” Pet sighed. Shifting the pillow up a fraction, he looked at Ben. “How long we got?”

“Bout an hour. I got coffee started.”

“Good, just enough time for breakfast.” Pet tossed aside the pillow, stood up and stretched.

Ben looked up his friend’s lanky frame and shook his head. “Are you ever going to stop growing?”

“Eventually.” Pet returned his grin and started for the door. At just under 6½ foot and hardly 175 pounds dripping wet, many of his friends jokingly compared him to a greyhound. A comparison he usually laughingly agreed with, reminding them that many people underestimate the dog.

“Before you hit 7 foot?” Ben stepped back and let him go down stairs first.

“That I don’t know,” Pet called over his shoulder. “Hey, did you get that History homework done?”

“Yeah. Didn’t you?”

“Man, my system crashed, I spent half the day tracking and fixing the problem."

“Mr. Lewis is going to kill you.”

“I don’t think we’re going to have to worry about it. Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to be in class today.”

 

 

Lt. Paulus Kimpel, Weapons Tech for the Falcon, snarled and shut off the alarm on his communicator. Keeping one hand over the speaker he got up and went into the bathroom. Hard, compact muscles bunched and rippled like a pale chestnut stallion as he moved.

“What?”

“Good morning, Mustang. We have a call. Can you get to the airfield?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. I have to get one of the ScramJets. I can pick you up in about 60 minutes.”

“Great. I’ll see you there.”

Paul killed the link, went back out to the room and started searching for his cloths.

“Huhn, wha’z wrong?”

Paul looked towards the bed, and his girl friend. “Nothing, I just got something I need to take care of, babe. Go back to sleep.”

 

 

Flash raised his head and growled when Kris’ communicator started going off.

She reached out and scratched behind his ears until he lowered that massive head back onto her leg. “Your life, it better be fucking good,” she growled into the speaker.

“The life, or the call?” Matt sounded disgustingly cheerful, and worst yet – awake.

“Either .. both.”

“Hmm, can I get back to you on the first? On the second, shag yer tail to the briefing room.”

“Mathew, do you know what time it is?”

“Yep. It’s almost 10:00 Greenwich.”

“I’d kill him, but then I get stuck with his job,” she thought gazing across the dark room.

“Growl all you want, just get up and get moving.”

Kris growled one last time and shut the line off.

Flash grumbled at her when she moved her leg out from under his head.

Kris patted him then stepped over to her desk and cut on a dim, red, light. A few moments later she headed out, having found a pair of shorts and a set of moccasins.

 

 

Chief Anderson looked up from the computer screen as the first of the department’s team, code name Force Seven, walked into the briefing room. Ellie paused on the threshold, gave him a quick appraisal then casually nudged Matt’s heel. A pointed look in the Chief’s direction drew a faint nod from her Commander. He was past exhaustion and was going on pure will power alone.

“Morning, Chief.”

“Matt,” The Chief nodded. “Where’s the rest of your team?”

“Kris should be here momentarily. I believe Ben and Pet headed for the Mess as soon as they arrived.”

The two boys walked in on the heels of Matt’s comment.

“Sustenance has arrived,” Pet announced, holding a tray laden with food.

“Pet, what the hell did you do?” Yale asked dropping into a chair.

“Got breakfast,” Pet shrugged. “Considering the hour I figured we all could do with a halfway decent meal.

“I thought you grabbed breakfast before you left.” Ellie countered.

“I did.” Pet grinned. “Here Chief, Galen said your cup would probably be empty.” Pet moved over to set a fresh cup of coffee on the Chief’s desk.

“Hey, Paul, what’d ya tell your girl friend this time?” Yale teased.

“I told her I had something to do.” Paul grimaced.

“Gee, I ought to try that some time.”

“You would need to have a real girl friend first,” Pet countered.

“Or at least one that wouldn’t object to him being prettier.”

Yale turned in his seat and smirked at Pet and Ben. “You guys are just jealous that I have them lining up every weekend.”

“In your dreams, brother,” Pet laughed.

Paul reached for a rye bagel with Swiss cheese and shaking his head at the younger boys.

“Stow it, you three,” Matt chided.

“Sure, Matt,” Pet sniggered as he moved to set the tray on the table.

“Now, if our Co-Pilot would just deign to show up.” Yale changed targets.

“Right here,” Kris’ voice came from the doorway.

“Here Kris,” Ben held up a mug. “We got ya some tea.”

“Thanks,” she nodded, fell into a chair, then took the mug.

“Geez, Neal,” Kris eyed the Chief over the rim of her mug. “What’d ya do, stay up all night going over that data? You look like somethin my dog would decline.”

“Here,” Paul stepped over to her seat and held out the bagel. “You need something to eat.”

“With his appetite?” Ben returned. “I’ve never seen Flash pass on anything.”

“True, my hound is a glut.” She leaned past her brother to answer Ben. “If it holds still for more than 30 seconds, it’s worth investigating for edibility.” Looking at Paul, she shook her head. “I’m not really hungry.”

“You crashed less than 10 minutes after returning from a long flight, and have been dead to the world for over 8 hours. I wouldn’t care to hazard when you last ate.” Paul had dropped his voice to the point Kris was the only one who could really hear him.

“You know, sometimes having a twin can be a pain in the ass,” Kris responded in similar vein.

“I know.” Paul grinned and switched to their mother language.   He added truth to his cover by grabbing a raisin bagel, then sitting next to his sister.

“If we are all settled now?” Anderson asked with a touch of sarcasm.

There was a slight ripple as the seven youngsters settled back into their seats and gave the Chief their attention.

“Based on recent information, a situation we have been watching is about to become critical.” Chief Anderson leaned back in his seat and steepled his fingers. “In the past several weeks, three leading minds of the science world disappeared. In all three cases the circumstances were, apparently, routine enough to not draw attention.”

“I didn’t know that any disappearance was considered “routine"." Ellie gave him a puzzled frown.

“Perhaps routine was a poor choice of words, but the situations were less than mysterious. One was involved in a messy divorce, another was believed to have died in a plane crash, and the third was a bachelor who left his job for another company.”

“What was the cause of the crash?” Matt asked.

“According to the investigation team, engine failure.”

“Nice simple cover story,” Kris muttered.

“According to data we just received, all three of these people are now located at a small complex in the Southern Hemisphere of Liscus.”

“Liscus, isn’t that the Rigan colony that’s about to try for their own seat on the Federation Council?” Ben leaned forward in his seat directing the question to Matt.

“Yeah. It looks like they’ll get it too. Barring serious objections from Riga.”

“Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t your uncle the rep. for Riga this term? We know how he feels about any of the colonies gaining independence.”

“Kris, just because you don’t like the man,” Yale started.

“Don’t like?” Kris interrupted. “Yale that is the understatement of the century. I don’t like Jason. Lavel, I would kill if I could.”

“Can we table the political discussion, please?” The Chief quickly cut in to the conversation before it became too heated.

“Sorry.” Kris slumped back in her seat, growling softly for a moment.

“I presume this complex is a base for someone who’s chosen to associate themselves with the Alliance.” Ellie tried to get the briefing back on track.

“Any one remember when all we had to worry about was Spectra?” Pet cracked. “We got so many franchise groups now; we can hardly keep track of them all.”

“Pet, shut up, before you depress all of us.”

“Sorry, Paul. Just a stray thought.”

“In answer to your question, Ellie, yes it is - Remklin.”

“Who are the scientist?”

“Dr. Busaya Ananthanrayanan, Dathan Grosstrel, and Dr. Rueben Tobianski.”

“Tobianski?” Kris sat back up. “What in all that is holy would they want with a Bioprosthestist?”

“A Bioprosthestist?” Ben turned a puzzled frown on towards her. “I’m afraid I am not up on some of the new buzz words.”

“Tobianski is one of the Terra’s leading experts on Bioprosthestics. PopSci did an in-depth article on him, and his work, a few months back.

“Most people refer to what he does as cybernetics. Others sometimes call it Bionics, the science of constructing artificial systems that have some of the characteristics of living systems, commonly associated with either that old 1970’s TV show, or cyborgs. Bioprosthestics is the fusion of biology and technology to repair or replace damage to organics.

“Dr Tobianski’s been making some interesting advances in limb replacement as well as repairing crippling nerve damage. His replacements, according to the article, are nearly indistinguishable from the organic original.”

“Hmm, this is interesting.” Pet leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees, and chewed a thumbnail. “Grosstrel is one of Riga’s leading minds in the computer world. Particularly the area involving A.I. He was a step short of a designing a fully sentient computer.”

“Until he allegedly demanded more money from the company, and walked when they wouldn’t pay.”

“What do you do, Kris? Subscribe to gossip weekly?”

“No, Yale. However, I do subscribe to Science Today. You might try it sometime. Then you wouldn’t sit there with a blank look on your face while the rest of us carry on a meaningful conversation.”

“I’m not as lost as you may think. Dr. Ananthanrayanan is a ranking nuclear engineer from Anteron. She was working on micro nuclear engines. She put her work in hold a year ago, when her husband filed for divorce. A rather long, drawn out, nasty mess. I heard the university stopped funding for the project afterwards. Sounds like she may have found a new supporter.”

“The question is,” Matt leaned back and stared at the ceiling, “what do these people have in common? And why is the Alliance interested in them?”

“Besides being leaders in their fields?” Ben asked.

Ellie chewed on her lip thinking for a moment then looked up. “You don’t suppose that they are trying to build a real android?”

“O Kevas.” Kris leaned forward, set her mug on the floor next to her feet, and rested her head on her knees for a moment.”

“Kris?!” Three members of the team looked at her, alarmed.

“Praying,” she told them sitting back. “If Ellie’s right, we’re fucked.” She sighed and looked at the ceiling. “How do you kill an android?”

“You destroy the power supply.” Pet told her. “But, if the power supply is nuclear,” he paused, frowning, “you may end up killing yourself. You’re right, we’re fucked.”

“Oh, bugger. You guys are jumping to conclusions. They may just be working on improving their Cyborgs. Beside, even if that is what they are doing, I doubt they managed to get very far along.” Ellie shot her pessimistic teammates a glower then looked back at the Chief. “How long has this base been fully operational?”

Chief Anderson had picked up his coffee and moved around to the front of his desk when the debate started. He leaned against the right corner and watched the team discuss the situation. He had learned over the years that this was how this team worked best. G-Force tended to work better when he presented all of the information up-front, answering their questions after he had given what data he had. The Force 7 tended to latch on to a comment, pause the briefing long enough to dissect that data, then move on.

He was not surprised, nor disappointed when they reached the same conclusion his own staff had. Their varied interests in the science world, coupled with IQ ‘s that started at 120, and went as high as 150, frequently tended to produce interesting as well as quick results. They weren’t always right, but rarely were they seriously wrong.

He set his cup down to answer Ellie’s question. “The base has been operational for five months. The first of the scientist turned up six weeks later. The second showed up a few weeks later. The last just arrived 10 days ago.”

“So, the chances are that what ever they are working on, it’s not quite ready,” Matt pounced on the possibility of time being in their favor.

“It is possible, yes. However, we’d rather not take the chances that they succeed. With that in mind,” The Chief straightened up and moved back around his desk to the computer terminal. The picture behind his desk vanished, to be replaced by an image of blue prints for a base. “These are the most recent plans we have for that base. The central computer, main power supply, and ammo dump are indicated in blue, red and gold, respectively.” He pointed to the three colored areas on the main floor.

Pet shoved his glasses back into place, grinning. “You’d think they would learn not to put the power supply and the ammo too close together.”

“Pet,” Yale gave his adopted brother a puzzled look, “they’re practically on opposite sides of the facility.”

“Yeah,” Pet’s grin widened. “But with Kris going, if they’re in the same time zone, they’re too close.”

Soft laughter rippled around the room. They were all familiar with the second-in-command’s penchant for blowing things up.

Kris shook her head. “Accidentally blow up a few ammo dumps and ya end up with a reputation around here.”

“Oh, yeah, a tossed grenade is really an accident.” Matt laughed.

“How recent are these blue prints?”

“Less than a week old, Ben.”

“And you’re sure we’re not being set-up?”

“These plans are from a reasonable reliable source, Yale.”

“What, you’re not bitching about Intel trying to screw us again?”

Kris sighed and closed her eyes for a second. “The info is from an inside man, Yale.”

“How do you … eh, never mind.”

“We know there are two labs on the second floor. Most of the work is being conducted there. The records of the projects and experiments are stored on the main computer on the first floor. What we don’t know, is where the Scientists are being kept when they are not working. Our informant was never able to gain access to the areas where we suspect them to be.” The screen flickered and the building rotated to show the two lower levels of the base. "The lower levels are a mix of offices, barracks and officers quarters.

“What we need is the Scientists out, what information may exist destroyed, if possible copied first, and the base closed down.”

“And what would you like us to do after lunch?” Yale asked. He was promptly smacked in the back of the head by his commanding officer.

“Cool it,” Matt growled at their pilot. He shot his second a glare when he noticed that she was silently laughing. “Joking aside,” Matt turned back to the chief, “do we have a time mark?”

“As soon as possible. Access codes and a copy of the blue prints have been transferred to the Falcon’s computer.”

“You heard the man, people. Let’s roll.”

At Matt’s order, everyone stood, placing mugs on the center table, and started to move around the chairs and table towards the door. A few paused to grab, or finish, a bagel on the way.

“The Falcon should be on the Cat. and about ready to launch. Good luck, team.”

“Am I the only one who cringes when he says that?” Kris said softly to Pet. “Luck has nothing to do with us getting the job done.”

“It’s kinda a Terran custom. You wish someone luck before they do something.”

“Like that odd custom of asking if everyone is ready just before doing something massively unwise.”

“Yes.”

“Kris, a moment, please.” Matt caught them just outside the door. Pet smiled down at his commander, nodded and continued towards the docking bay. “A favor, if you don’t mind. Could you bring Flash.”

Kris stared at him for a moment, annoyance flickering across her face. “Why?”

“We have a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of time. Flash is a good tracker. I know he’s your dog, but I would like to have him along.” Matt patiently explained his motives.

Kris stared down the corridor for a long moment before turning to glower at him. “I take it you want to leave the bird behind.”

“Hun?”

“I can’t keep track of Flash and Neeta at the same time. And if you are asking for Flash, you’re going to be wanting Pet on Scout/Tracking detail, which means he won’t be able to keep an eye on her.”

“Hmm, that’s right. You two are the only ones who can control her.” Matt grimaced at the mental image of their team’s mascot, a six year old Peregrine Falcon, diving on some of the Federation Council members.

“Who said anything about control?” Kris gave him a lopsided grin. “I just keep track of her.”

“Yeah, I guess it would be best if we left her here.” Matt shook his head. “Not that I object to her participation, just her enthusiasm.”

“What can I say, we taught her well.” Kris’ smile was more than slightly vicious. “I’ll meet ya on the Falcon.”

Matt nodded and started towards the docking bay. He wasn’t sure exactly when, but at some point during the conversation, she had decided to bring her dog.

Moments later he walked through the doors into the Main Docking Bay. Sitting in the middle of the bay was a huge black aircraft. He paused a few steps in to admire the craft. Some of the maintenance crew use to joke that the ship looked like a YF-12 and an X-29 had mated. Her official designation was SSTOS/A 32, call sign GFS2, affectionately known as the Falcon. She was big, streamlined, invisible to most forms of RADAR, and very deadly.

Just behind, and slightly to the left, was a smaller version. The GFS5, called the Raven, was the department’s 4-man quick insertion/strike ship. A ship designed with one thought in mind: “Go in, hit hard and quick, and get out.” The Raven lacked the bay space of the Falcon and Phoenix, and didn’t have the capacity to do the extended missions, but made up for what she lacked in sheer firepower.

Not present was G-Force’s command ship, the Phoenix. She was down in the maintenance bay being checked over after her last mission, having any damage repaired.

“Hard to believe something so deadly could be so gorgeous,” a soft voice came from behind him.

Matt turned to see Kris standing just behind his left shoulder. Standing at her left knee was her dog. Flash stood almost three-foot at the shoulder, his head reaching Kris’ belt, had the lean, muscular, build of a cattle dog and sported a dark sable and white coat, reminiscent of smooth coat collie from Scotland.

“I know what you mean.” Matt kept his voice casual, while he eyed his second. Kris wasn’t one of those females that thought you had to be skinny to be good looking. Not that she worried about what other people thought of her appearance. Her uniform did little to disguise the well-conditioned figure beneath, if anything, it served to enhance her form. He idly wondered if she had taken time to chance clothes before switching to her uniform, while noting that she had as usual, tossed her cowl off leaving it to lie between her shoulder blades.

“I see we’re ‘bout ready to launch.”

“Huhm. Only thing left is us.”

“You plan on going like that?” Kris pointedly looked at his jeans and flight jacket.

“Yeah, I thought I would try a new look, what do you think?” he struck an exaggerated modeling pose.

“I think you’ll end up very dead very quickly.” Kris rolled her eyes.

Matt laughed and keyed off the sequence on his communicator to transform his civilian clothes into his uniform.

Kris pushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes then motioned Flash towards the ship. Matt let her get a few steps in front of him then followed silently.

Kris gently quieted her dog’s soft rumbling. Both Kris and Flash had noted Matt’s silent appraisal. Flash interpreted the examination as a challenge to his “pack leader” and was inclined to inform Matt of the error of those actions. she leaned down and whispered in his ear Flash’s response was a loud snort. Kris stifled a snicker and looked over her shoulder to see if Matt was coming. “I’m taking him in back. I’ll be on the bridge as soon as I get him settled.”

Matt nodded as he reached the base of the loading ramp. Letting his mind shift to analyzing the information from the briefing, trying to judge the best way to arrange his team to maximize efficiency and minimize injury.

A few minutes later, all the members of the Force 7 were completing standard preflight checks. Matt took one quick glance around the bridge before commencing launch procedures.

“Okay, people, by the numbers.”

“Main engines are on-line,” Pet’s contra-base rumble followed rapidly from the port side. “Jump engines on standby-by. Board shows green. We’re good to go.”

“Course plotted, transferring to helm. All systems green.”

“Flight control shows green,” Kris’ measured contralto just after Ellie’s soft soprano was always a bit startling. “Ship systems show green. Flight crew signals clear. We’re good for go.”

“Helm checks,” Yale followed the routine absently. “Fuel pressure - minus .5 pounds, nominal.” He glanced over his shoulder towards Matt’s station and nodded. “We are go.”

“E.C.M. shows green.” Ben’s voice drifted back. “All systems check. We’re good to go.”

Paul flipped one last switch, locking his board down, before adding his report. “Weapons loaded and locked. Board is green. Good for go.”

Matt turned slightly in his seat and flicked the comm. line open. “Colorado Springs, this is George Frank Sam 2. We are good for Go.” Another flick changed the channel and he spoke quickly with ground control, warning them of impending launch switching back in time to hear the launch command.

“George Frank Sam 2, Colorado Springs, you are cleared. Go.”

“George Frank Sam 2, Clear.” Matt killed the comm. and turned attention back to his crew.

Yale looked up towards the mirror above the pilot’s seat, watching for the clear sign. He caught Matt’s half nod and keyed in the launch sequence.

With a roar heard even through the insulation in the cabin, the Falcon’s four main engines shifted from idle to full thrust. Yale started easing off the brakes, letting the ship roll forwards a fraction, as Kris reached for the catapult release. He released them as the cat. kicked the ship forward, slamming the occupants against their seats.

As the Falcon blasted out of her mountain strong hold, Kris tapped a set of keys on her console. One bathed the cockpit in red light another engaged the StarLite mode of the main viewscreen. Meanwhile Yale's attention was claimed by the intricacies of controlling the ship as she cleared the bay, and started her skyward ascent.

Once they were clear of the base, and outside Colorado Springs area, Matt radioed back and informed them they could resume regular traffic.

Conversations were kept at a minimum as they angled southwest, out of the mountains, and Yale started increasing the angle of their climb.

Several long minutes later, Kris leaned back in her seat and gave Yale a grin. "A-n-d, we're black," she announced, telling them that they had crossed that invisible barrier between the upper atmosphere and space.

Yale cut the thrust of the main engines, allowing inertia and the laws of physics to keep them in motion until he fired the jump engines for the 10.7 light-year jaunt.

"What's that noise?" Pet interrupted, looking past his left shoulder, towards the rear of the bridge. A faint wailing sound could be heard through the door. A wail the rose and fell, the rose again.

Kris swung her seat around, reaching for the belt release. "That's Flash. He does not like zero-g." She used part of the momentum of her spin to launch into a gentle dive for the door.

"I can help a little." Pet typed a command into the engineering board. The wail dropped off slightly, to a whimper as Kris opened the door. "I set up a pseudo-field in the cabin. That should make him a little more comfortable."

"Thanks, Pet." Kris continued out the door. "But I better go check on him, make sure he isn't getting ill."

Matt chuckled as the Second disappeared. "Well, I was going to wait a few more minutes. We have just over 10½ hours till we reach Liscus. That's long enough to split into two five-hour shifts, I want everyone on the bridge half an hour before we reach our destination.

Yale glanced up at the mirror as he finished setting the jump commands. "Well, since Kris' already vanished, I guess I get the first watch."

Matt leaned back against his seat, stretching his back, and watched as Ben turned around and leaned across Pet's station to talk. Paul and Ellie were doing similar. He rarely cared how they set the shifts, as long as the three main stations were manned. A few minutes later Pet and Ellie unstrapped and moved towards the rear of the bridge. Paul and Ben also unbuckled, but they were moving into their teammates' stations.

"See you guys in a few hours."

"Yeah, just don't over sleep Pet."

Pet just laughed at Ben's subtle reference to his sleeping patterns and continued out the door, Ellie literally at his heels. As they neared the door to the crew-cabin, it became possible to walk, after a fashion.

"What did you set the field at?"

"A 10th of a gee. Just enough to give Flash a feel for ground." Pet shrugged. "We don't really need it, and I don't want to expend too much power. He can handle a 10th, I know."

"It's set up for the Infirmary too?" Ellie glanced across the narrow corridor at the other door.

"Yeah. It's in the same zone."

"Okay. I'm going to make sure everything's in place; just in case." Ellie turned towards the port side door. "One never knows what will happen."

"True." Pet softly concurred, opening the Starboard door.

"Keep it down, okay." Kris softly spoke from across the small room. "I just got him about settled."

Pet glanced over and saw that Kris was in "her" bunk, safety netting in place. She was lying on her side with her left arm across Flash’s shoulders, comforting him.

"How's he doing?" Pet quietly asked, moving towards the double bunks across from her.

"The pseudo field helped, thank you. But he's still edgy."

Pet causally hopped into the upper bunk, snapped the safety net in place and settled down. "Even I sleep better with some gravity.

Kris laughed softly, scratching Flash's ears. Pet, like the rest of the team, could sleep anywhere, anytime. In their line of work, you never knew when you might have to go a day, or better, without real rest. Therefore, they had taught themselves to get what rest they could whenever it was possible, even if they had only been up a few hours.

By the time Ellie finished her checks, and entered the crew-cabin, everyone was asleep, including the dog.

 

End of part one

~ Table of Contents ~
[Report This]
You must login (register) to review.